Do you feel as if something is missing from your career? Many clients contact me, saying that while they like many aspects of their work, something leaves them unfulfilled, disengaged, and itching to make a change. They feel that their job isn’t working for them and they want to gain some insights about what’s wrong, and how to fix it.
The polling firm Gallup has found this feeling is widespread among employees—a situation they call the the “engagement crisis.”
Sometimes the solution is to find a new job. But feelings of incompleteness can sometimes follow you no matter where you’re working. That’s why it’s important to explore concrete ways you can improve your situation—and increase your overall career contentment—in the job you currently have.
In his book, Be Excellent at Anything, Tony Schwartz argues that we function best as individuals and professionals, when we are in balance with the four sources of energy in our beings: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Focusing on how these four elements are impacted in your day-to-date work can bring greater meaning and purpose to your career.
First, let’s assess how the four elements function in your work and identify ways you can create greater balance. Then, I suggest you write an affirmative goal on how you can improve that specific element. By writing this information down, we bring our attention to it and bring into focus
Element 1: Physical
Your physical experience at work relates to the material corporal interactions at work. It includes things like your safety, comfort, and stress level, as well as the benefits and compensation you get from your job.
Make a list of all the elements of your physical wellbeing that need improvement at work. Now, identify one or two elements where you can take an action that will directly improve it.
Next, write a positive statement that will support your new action. For example, maybe one of your complaints is that you are often tired at work. When you think about that, you realize that you don’t get the sleep you need to be at your best. The action you decide to take is to set a regular bed time that allows you to get 7-8 hours of sleep before the morning alarms starts your day. Your positive statement might be, “I am giving myself adequate rest so I can have greater energy to do my best work.”
Element 2: Emotional
Think about your emotional experience at work—your feelings, your connections, and your sense of positive self-worth. We do our best work when we feel engaged, well-regarded, and valued at work. Take inventory of your emotional reaction to your job. If you find it lacking somewhere, think of an action (or two) you can take to improve your emotional experience.
For example, perhaps you’re feeling lonely or invisible in your office. What action can you take to make a friendly connection? Your positive affirmative statement might be, “I am going to socialize more with my coworkers” or, “I am letting people get to know me more.”
Element 3: Mental/Intellectual
The best work opportunities give us the daily chance to explore our passions, to do the things we’ve been educated to do, and to learn skills and competencies. Most people feel some level of discontentment in jobs where they’re not being used to their full ability.
I recently had a conversation with a woman, typical of many I’ve had over the years. She said that she’d never thought of being mentally challenged at work; she did the job she was trained to do and day after day, year after year, she produced the same product. Only in retrospect did she realize that this was a cause of her dissatisfaction.
How can you take on new challenges, solve interesting problems, improve workflow and develop more efficient work teams or processes? What actions can you take to grow intellectually? You might affirm, “I am going to take a training course that allows me to do something new in my current job.”
Element 4: Spiritual
Here we are referring to a sense of purpose, integrity and value. Meaning and significance at work might seem like a luxury but working with a sense of purpose brings passion, energy, and commitment to our work.
Make a list of your top five work values and think about how you can integrate them even more in to your day-to-day work life. Suggested affirmations might be, “Service is important to me and I’m going to to deliver the best possible service to my clients.”
Sorting through each of these four elements can be a significant task, so you may want to work with a career coach. A coach can help you gain insight about the targeted goals you want to set.
Reflecting on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs you have and considering how to put them into action will lead to a more satisfying experience of your work. When you think about ways to develop a more meaningful work life, putting these four elements into action will renew your career.
And an energized, reengaged you will create more value – both for you and for your organization.